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Alex visits the Magellanic Penguins of Punta Tombo

The tiny peninsula of Punta Tombo is home to Patagonia’s most important Magellan penguin colony. Every year during spring time (September/October in Argentina) more than half a million of them come to the reserve to breed. The Punta Tombo area has been protected since 1979,  and is home to some of the most diverse flora and fauna in Patagonia and Argentina. Alex visited the Magellanic Penguins of Punta Tombo in spring time, got the chance to get up close and personal with the Magellanic penguins and their molting babes.

Walking to Punta Tombo reserve
She couldn’t believe the sheer number of penguins spread as far as the eye could see, and the best part was that they didn’t bat an eye as Alex walked the marked path weaving through the colony.  Visitors are able to see the colony via several paths, but note that the visitor areas are clearly marked and should be respected.  However for the penguins there are no boundaries, and while Alex was there some decided to sun themselves smack dab in the middle of the path. She even saw one penguin who preferred using the wooden boardwalk to the rocky ground on his way back to the nest.  The Magellanic penguins generally spend a lot of time hanging out at their nests, which are built below low bushes, but do also come and go to ocean for food as soon as their babies are born.

Alex Punto Tombo

Magellanic Penguin Chicks

In late November the penguin chicks are born, they are grey and as small as tennis balls. But not for long! This is when the lives of the parent penguins begin to get very busy as they have to constantly make trips for food to feed their chicks. The chicks triple their weight every 10 days for the first month of their lives. During that time the adults will never leave the nest for more than 36 hours. The penguins will need to swim further and further as the season passes to access their food.

First Swim in the Ocean

In mid-January the penguins are just two months old but their flippers are strong and they are ready to take their first dive. At this time of the year you will see the beaches and the sea filled with Magellanic penguins. They walk to the beach in organized lines and the chicks seem to look a bit nervous for their first swim. Just like kids on their first swimming lesson. But then the waves take them, and instinct soon has them swimming and diving fearlessly in the cold Atlantic waters!

Would you also  like to see this impressive penguin colony at Punta Tombo? Contact one of Class Adventure Travel Specialists for a personalized itinerary  including time to see Puerto Madryn’s wildlife.